Ever wondered about the secret of Hyderabadi biryani? It's Sri Murugan ghee

In the 1950s, A.V Shanmughan from Tamil Nadu set up Sri Murugan Ghee Store, a small shop selling buffalo ghee. Now, it has transformed into a big store selling not just ghee and diary products but also sweets.

By Nimisha S Pradeep  Published on  18 Jan 2022 4:38 AM GMT
Ever wondered about the secret of Hyderabadi biryani? Its Sri Murugan ghee

Hyderabad: Sitting at a restaurant in Hyderabad and relishing your chicken biryani, have you ever wondered what is the secret behind its alluring aroma? Ghee is the secret of a good biryani. And where does the ghee for Paradise Biryani come from? Sri Murugan Ghee Store, a 70-odd-years-old ghee store on the Badi Chowdi Road in Sulthan Bazar in Hyderabad.

A man takes a steel measuring jar and fills it. He empties it into a cover that he holds in his other hand. On placing it on the weighing machine, he finds it a little less than the quantity asked for. So he dips the measuring jar in the big vessel, fills it a little, and adjusts the quantity. The thick yellow ghee flows from the jar…the Sri Murugan Ghee.

As you enter Sri Murugan Ghee Store from a side entrance, there stand two men behind two vessels of ghee. Half litre, 250 ml, one litre – customers keep coming in and calling out. The two men, seemingly tuned to the customers' calls, tirelessly continue packing different quantities of ghee. They fill the measuring jars, empty them into the covers, check the weight, and adjust the measurements.

The men behind the ghee counter may have changed but the quality of ghee has remained unchanged for the last seventy years.

"There is a difference between pure ghee and quality ghee," says Balaji, one of the directors of Sri Murugan Ghee. "Everyone sells pure ghee that is unadulterated but when you talk of quality, it is more about aroma and taste. We handpick (with a lot of care on every batch) and buy expensive, high-quality, raw material from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu to prepare our ghee," he says.

In the 1950s, A.V Shanmughan from Tamil Nadu set up Sri Murugan Ghee Store, a small shop selling buffalo ghee. Back then, the store had just half the space that it has now and everything happened there – from processing to storing to packaging to selling. Now, it has transformed into a big store selling not just ghee but sweets, another branch in Ashok Nagar in Indira Park Road, a ghee processing factory in Nacharam, and a sweet-making factory in Uppal.

Balaji (right) and his elder brother Jawahar Raj (left)

In the 1990s, Balaji and his brothers, while continuing their education, joined the business with their father. The ethics of the food business was etched into their minds by their father. "Business means ethics. You can make money anytime. But you can't lose even 0.1% of your ethics," Balaji remembers his father's words.

Balaji fondly remembers how as a 10-year-old schoolboy, he used to visit the store and from afar observe how his father made interpersonal relations with each and every customer.

"We do not want to compromise even 0.1% quality on our product," says Balaji. More than 2,000 customers visit Sri Murugan Ghee Store every day. "People come from different parts of the city to this store with high expectations. We want to keep their expectations alive," he says.

Four years ago, they introduced bottle packaging and started selling ghee in the provision stores of Karnataka and Telangana. Now, they have entered the online market, too. The bottles are priced reasonably – Rs.140 for a 200 ml bottle of cow ghee or buffalo ghee, Rs. 330 for 500 ml, Rs. 650 for 1l, and Rs. 3,200 for bulk purchase of 5l.

Owing to the expanding business, around four months ago, Sri Murugan also started selling sweets besides ghee and other milk products. Special Mysorepak, Motichor Laddoo, Ajmeri Kalakand, and the Malai sweets are already people's favourites.

With no compromise and further striving to improve the quality of their products, Sri Murugan Ghee Store has gained a lot of loyal customers who continue to visit the store for years. "Many of our customers say I used to come with my father and now I come with my son," adds Balaji.

To know more about the products of Sri Murugan Ghee Store, click here.

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